Erudite cultural conservatives have issues with President Donald Trump. They aren’t into protectionist tariffs, 3 a.m. tweets, locker room vulgarity and bombastic populist appeals. Trump is not the second act of Reagan.
Still, no conservative can deny what Trump found for them in Boulder, CO.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is a gift that may keep giving to the conservative cause for the next 40 years.
Rulings last week remove any doubt Gorsuch is the staunchly conservative, “originalist” jurist Trump promised while stumping on the campaign trail.
The Gazette’s editorial board grilled Trump last July to determine whether he was serious about nominating judges only from a list approved by the center-right Federalist Society. Trump promised that was his plan and said it was “the most important issue in the race.”
Constitutional stalwarts who are not sold on Gorsuch should talk to their friends on the left.
“Neil Gorsuch is everything liberals feared — and more,” shouts a headline in Slate.
Slate’s Gorsuch photo carries a cutline that calls the judge “a reactionary who dresses up his cruel views in folksy charms.”
The analysis explains how Monday’s rulings and opinions confirmed Gorsuch as “pro-gun, pro-travel ban, anti-gay, anti-church/state separation” and “possibly to the right of Justice Clarence Thomas.”
He is “an unmitigated disaster for the progressive constitutional project.”
The what? Progressive constitutionalism, from what we can tell, views the Constitution as a living document judges may interpret creatively to comport with modern social, cultural and political trends. Progressive constitutionalism is the opposite of constitutional originalism, which holds the Constitution as a permanent document that means what it says and is hard to amend.
The bizarre “anti-gay” assertion emanates from tensions between progressive constitutionalists and those demanding enforcement of the Constitution’s original intent.
Believing the court should not create law, Gorsuch dissented from a ruling that requires states to list same-sex parents on state birth certificates.
We doubt Gorsuch harbors negative sentiment toward gay Americans. More likely, he genuinely objects to nine hand-picked lawyers, without constitutional authority, telling 50 sovereign states how to do business.
Gorsuch, with law degrees from Harvard and Oxford, read the Constitution and found the 10th Amendment’s limitation on federal authority: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Having found nothing constitutional that empowers federal authorities to manage birth certificates, Gorsuch opined accordingly. It wasn’t about his view of gay rights or same-sex marriage. It was about his limited role as a judge authorized only to interpret the Constitution and relevant case law. If birth certificates are not “delegated to the United States,” they are by legal dictate a purview of the states or the people.
As for the “pro-gun” charge, we cannot confirm whether Gorsuch likes guns, uses guns or favors their pervasive role in society. It is not relevant.
Gorsuch merely joined Thomas in a dissenting opinion that defends the Second Amendment’s language: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
That is the law. We trust judges to interpret laws without personal prejudice.
Slate’s tirade claims Gorsuch harbors “deep hostility to the separation of church and state.”
More likely, Gorsuch probably harbors deep hostility to a progressive pretense that our Constitution requires “separation of church and state.”
At issue is Gorsuch joining the majority ruling in favor of Trinity Lutheran School in Missouri. The school endured religious discrimination when state authorities enforced the state’s racist Blaine Amendment in violation of the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses.
The First Amendment clearly prohibits government from making laws motivated by the religious convictions of individuals or groups.
By refusing the school access to state playground assistance, expressly because the school is Lutheran, Missouri illegally enacted and enforced a law “respecting an establishment of religion.” By segregating the school from the state program, state authorities interfered with the school’s right to exercise religion without consequence imposed by government.
Gorsuch will have a profound influence on holding government to the constraints our founders intended.
He will conserve the constitutional doctrine of a small government in service to a free and responsible public. For that, conservatives should thank Trump.
The Gazette editorial board
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